How To Be A  Tough Guy!!!

By John Saleeby
December 16th, 2004

Are you a Tough Guy? If you're reading Acid Logic, you probably got here by clicking a link on a "Flintstones" fan page and the closest you've ever come to crashing a car into a whorehouse is spilling milk on the kitchen floor. (And cleaning it up real fast before your Mom sees it!). Lucky for you Acid Logic is here to help. As preparation for this article Acid Logic Editor Wil Forbis and I both selected a favorite movie Tough Guy for study - I chose Mel Gibson in "Payback" and Forbis chose Bruce Willis in "Last Man Standing" while your likely favorite, Harry Hamlin in "Clash Of The Titans" wasn't available at the local video place - Shucks!

TOUGH GUY RULE - No Private Detectives

No more of that "Whodunnit?" foolishness. Movies are about watching someone do something, not watching someone try to figure out who did something that already happened before the movie started. What? The crime the movie is supposed to be about has already happened and you didn't get it on film? Where were you while all the good stuff was going on? Sitting at home watching television? What the hell kind of filmmaker are you? Why did Mickey Spillane write all those books about Mike Hammer when that dope was always the very last guy in the whole book to catch on to what was going on? Private Detective - What a shabby profession! Are they Cops? No? Well why do we have to put up with their shit? You ain't got a badge? Get the fuck outta here! Half of 'em used to be Cops but had to quit cause . . . I dunno . . . They were too cool to be Cops. So now we've got Alternative Cops like we've got Alternative Rock. When I get sick they'll probably take me to the Alternative Doctor. Private Detectives SUCK!

Both Gibson and Willis play criminals in these films - The Traditional Tough Guy is a Bad Guy at war with other Bad Guys.  Cops are Tops but lack Moral Pizzazz. When a Good Guy (A Cop) shoots all the Bad Guys it's good for "Society" (ZZZZZZ . . . ) but when a Bad Guy does the same thing it becomes An Act Of Spiritual Redemption. In "Last Man Standing" Bruce Willis plays a Hired Gun who deploys twin Forty Five Automatics to waste more men in two minutes than the United States killed during the entire Korean Conflict. As a Young Man before the film Willis decided "Oh Boy! I'm gonna learn how to shoot a Forty Five and become a professional killer and shoot people and drink whiskey and nail whores and have all kinds of fun - YAHOO!" so by the time we see him at the beginning of "Last Man Standing" he has spent the past two and a half decades shootin', drinkin', and nailin' and realizes "My Life has no MEANING!". When some dingleberry who works at an advertising agency and lives with his wife and kids in the suburbs wakes up and makes such a pronouncement he's just a great big crybaby who's seen "American Beauty" on HBO too many times but, coming from a professional killer who never does anything but shoot people and drink whiskey and nail broads it is quite profound. I am currently writing a rip off of "Office Space" about a methamphetamine factory that is going to kick Mike Judge's ass.

TOUGH GUY RULE - No Martial Arts

Did Ralph Macchio need Karate to take care of Leif Garrett in "The Outsiders"? No! I told Forbis about this Rule and he looked at me like I told him he couldn't wear his Baby Blue Zoot Suit to my five year old niece's exorcism. Martial Arts are all well and good if we're stuck in Hong Kong during the Seventies but right now I'm in the USA during damn near 2005 and I couldn't be more sick of those guys if they were wearing kilts and playing bagpipes. First we had Alternative Rock and now we've got Alternative Ass Kicking Techniques. Wait, Martial Arts came before The Velvet Underground, right? Ah ha! Now we know who to blame for that garbage. Alex Chilton, however, is a handgun owner.

A lot of youse think being a Tough Guy is all about beating the hell out of people but Real Tough Guys seem to spend more time getting beat up by other people than anything else. Now, most people will change their mind about pretty much anything once you beat em up enough. If David Letterman had paid a few goons to beat up Jay Leno enough I'm sure Leno would have said "Okay! You can have 'The Tonight Show'! I'll just headline in Atlantic City for the rest of my life - Just stop hitting me!". If Howard Dean had paid a few goons to beat up John Kerry enough I'm sure Kerry would have said . . . uh . . . How you say "Okay! You can be the nominee! I'll just be a senator for the rest of my life - Just stop hitting me!" in French?  And as soon as I save up enough money to pay a few goons to beat up Wil Forbis enough he'll say "Okay! Saleeby can write an Acid Logic article about Cheap Trick! We'll have an article about Cheap Trick in every single issue from now on - Just stop hitting me!" But this doesn't seem to work on Real Tough Guys. It only seems to push 'em into that Popeye The Sailor "I's had alls I can stands, I can't stands no more!" frame of mind, although if they tried to eat a can of spinach on top of all the smoking and drinking in these movies they'll be puking green 'til the end of the picture. Mel Gibson doesn't just get beat up in "Payback" - He gets shot in the back, hit by a car full of Chinese hoodlums, tortured by having his toes smashed by a hammer, and - Most agonizing of all - he makes out with Maria Bello without even getting to second base! Damn! Bruce Willis gets beat up pretty bad in "Last Man Standing" but gets off  easy compared to Gibson cause they made him walk through glass barefoot in "Die Hard" and Demi Moore dumped him. DAMN!

TOUGH GUY RULE - No Method Actors

What? Robert DeNiro isn't a Tough Guy? Or Al Pacino? Or Joe Pesci? Or . . . ZZZZZZ . . . Huh? Where was I? Oh yeah, Harvey Keitel, Mickey Rourke, Marlon Bran . . . ZZZZZZ . . . Huh? You wake me up again and I'll put on that Undertones CD!

One has to comment on the genuinely astounding amount of smoking and drinking in these films (No, this is not leading up to a Keith Richards Joke - Someone has to stand up and put an end to this sooner or later, no, I am not making a Keith Richards Joke!). Boy, is there a lot of smoking and drinking in these movies, it's like The Replacements showed up backstage at a Guns N' Roses gig (Well, that's a LITTLE progress, I guess). Someone ought to make a Tough Guy movie where, after an hour of the usual nonstop smoking and drinking, all of the characters get physically ill and spend a couple of days in bed talking to each other on the phone about how crummy they feel and promising to knock the hell out of each other as soon as they get back on their feet. "I'm tellin' ya, Slick, as soon as I can take a solid dump again I am gonna get over there and blow your brains out!" "Hell, put on a diaper and come blow my brains out right now, I got such a head ache you'd be doin' me a goddam favor." "Man, why did I eat that meatball sub after I shot your partner?" "I don't wanna hear about it. The meatball sub, I mean." Then, a few days without whiskey and cigerettes they have a moment of clarity . . . "Hey, why the hell are we doin' this to each other?" "I dunno . . . It's all so . . . self destructive!" "Yeah!" "Oh, I know - Cause you killed Danny!" "Yeah, and you killed Larry!" "Oh, yeah." "Yeah, that's it." "Geez, Danny useta make me sick always smokin' and drinkin'!" "Yeah. Larry, too." "Screw those guys!" "Yeah! Peer Pressure is SO High School!" And then they go off and start a Cajun resteraunt or something.

TOUGH GUY RULE - Tough Guys Don't Dance

I have no idea what that means but that's the title of a book by Norman Mailer and any guy who can stab his wife in the stomach right in the middle of a party full of people and get away with it has gotta know something.

And how can they have gun-fights with them billowing clouds of smoke? Every one of these movies has a scene where all The Tough Guys get together to smoke, drink, and play cards while The Broad is slouching around sneering at everybody until they get to the Good Part Of The Scene where they all jump up, pull out their guns, start shooting at each other and the place is so fulla smoke it's a friggin' miracle they don't miss each other and end of shooting The Broad by mistake. "Oh, man! We shot Da Broad! Look, Danny shot her in the head with the thirty eight, Larry shot her in the neck with the forty five, Pinky shot her in the chest with the three fifty seven, and - Aw, man!  Who the hell had the sawed off shotgun!?"

TOUGH GUY RULE - The Deer Park

That's not really a Rule but it's the title of another book by Norman Mailer and I'm so impressed with him stabbing his wife in the gut and never getting sent to prison for it I'm just gonna let him have another one. Hey, William Burroughs blew his wife's brains out at a party and never went to prison . . . Okay, now I'm being silly.

Interestingly, in "Payback" Mel Gibson smokes but doesn't drink and in "Last Man Standing" Bruce Willis drinks but doesn't smoke and they are the only guys to make it out of these movies alive while all the guys who smoke and drink all wind up dead. There's a message in there somewhere. Let me have a drink, smoke a cigarette, and think about it. Hhhhmmm . . .

TOUGH GUY RULE - Treat Broads Like Dirt

Yeah, that's kinda harsh but is the title of this article "How To Be A Folksinger"? Maybe you'd better give up on that fantasy of going into a rival business office and walking out five minutes later with a big black plastic bag full of decapitated heads you dump all over your boss's desk snarling "Remember this next time you feel like calling me a 'useless bum' in front of all the other employees, BITCH!!" - Congratulations, you're A Nice Sweet Guy and you're going to make some lucky girl a Good Husband one day. Now, here's some cash - Run out a get me some cigarettes before I grab you by the neck and break your skull open against the wall. You're still here? Well, I guess you're wise to what I'm talkin' about - You've lost your virginity, had a few heartaches, been around the block a few times and now you know that broads ain't nothing but trouble. Everybody likes to get laid once in a while and a family is good if you're determined to bring everybody down with ya, otherwise love is for suckers! So, listen up -

Uh on! I better stop writing out here in the parking lot and go inside the store and get those cigarettes for The Boss before he kills me! Uh oh! That nice girl is working behind the counter again! Sure hope my hair looks okay!

Strangest Tough Guy Movie Ever . . .

"Paint Your Wagon" starring Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood, a disastrous attempt at a Musical Comedy starring heterosexuals. Studio Executives took one look and immediately canceled production on "King Of Cell Block B" starring Roddy McDowell and Paul Lynde.

What do you think? Leave your comments on the Guestbook!

John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email -


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